What is Salicylic Acid? Should I incorporate it into my Skin Care routine?

Salicylic acid is a well-known term in skincare. The gold standard for acne treatmentsbad news for mature skin, and the secret of clear skin. It’s all there – the good, bad and the speculative. What is the truth behind the so-called “genie in a bottle”?

You’re here because you want to join the fun but aren’t sure what to expect. This article will cover all things salicylic acids! What it is, how it works, which products you can use and how to best incorporate it into skincare. Let’s get the popcorn and dive in!

What’s Salicylic Acid?

Salicylic acid, a skincare ingredient, is most well-known for acne treatment. Its hardworking qualities help to thoroughly clean, exfoliate, and unclog pores. This hydroxy acid is among the most popular in recent years, alongside glycolic acid and lac acid. They are often referred to as miracle ingredients in the beauty industry for their many skin benefits, including anti-aging, skin tone improvement, glowing skin, and radiant skin. While all of these face acids are powerful and well-deserved, each has a unique set of capabilities that merit our attention.

Difference Between Salicylic Acid And Glycolic Acid

Let’s start with the obvious. Salicylic acid, also known as a BHA (beta hydroxy acid), and glycolic acid, an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid), are BHAs. These may seem boring scientific terms, but the ‘beta” structure makes the difference. This unique property gives salicylic acid its oil-soluble characteristic. It is, therefore, able to reach deep into the skin’s layers and clogged pores. Salicylic acid has a lot to offer our skin.

Benefits of Salicylic Acid

Deep cleansing

Due to its oil-soluble nature, Salicylic acid is more effective at absorbing skin than its AHA counterparts. It gets to the gunk-filled pores, where it dissolves any oil, dirt, or product buildup. It also aids in another important process for our skin:


Exfoliation is essential for skin health, as we all know. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells to promote skin renewal and rejuvenation. The same goal is achieved by salicylic acid. It breaks down the glue that holds our dead skin cells together. These cells can eventually cause blemishes and dull skin.

Both blackheads and whiteheads

Salicylic acid targets both blackheads and whiteheads when we clean our skin. It’s simple: Clean pores equals dirt-free pores.

Skin discolouration, melasma, and psoriasis

Salicylic acid can treat dark spots, uneven skin tone, and skin discolouration at higher levels. It has been claimed that it helped with their melasma or psoriasis. These skin conditions should be reported to your dermatologist.

Acne breakouts

The biggest reason salicylic acid has such a cult following is its popularity. This powerhouse can handle almost anything, even the extremely difficult task of treating acne breakouts. It is a great acne treatment because it has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. A few derma-positioned products and professional chemical peels use high salicylic acids to target dark spots and acne scarring.

Salicylic acid in your Skin Care Routine

Salicylic acid can be easily incorporated into skincare products, the cherry on top. Salicylic acid can be used in creams, scrubs and masks. You can find these products in concentrations of 0.5% to 2.2%, making it easy for everyone to use salicylic acids in their skincare routine. Make sure you read all the information about the product to ensure that you choose the right product type, acid concentration, frequency, and use frequency.

Use as a face wash or cleanser

This is a safe and gentle way to introduce acids to your skincare routine, especially for sensitive skin types and newbies.

Salicylic acid is a rinse-off product, so it only stays on the skin for long enough to unclog pores and prevent irritation. Because it is oil-soluble, it can also be used to remove makeup. This chemical exfoliator is a great addition to your skincare routine. It will help remove dead skin cells, allowing you to use the rest of your products to penetrate the skin.

  • Suitable for: All skin types, including those with sensitive skin and new to salicylic acid


Toners with salicylic acids are not easy to find, but this unlikely combination makes sense. Both have similar pores-treatment methods. Toners are known for tightening pores and minimizing their appearance. Salicylic acid penetrates deep into our pores. A match made in heaven! To avoid drying your skin, look for an alcohol-free product if you find one that contains this combination.

  • For: All skin types. But be careful if you have sensitive skin.


Serums are leave-on products that stay on the skin all day. They’re not like washes. Salicylic acid is best used at night because it protects the active ingredients from pollution and UV rays. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant so make sure you have a high-SPF sunscreen in your morning routine.

  • For: Normal to combination skin and oily skin


Masks are an excellent way to get salicylic acid in your daily routine without drying your skin. They provide potent ingredients in a hydrating, refreshing way. They are an excellent balance of leave-on and wash-offs. They stay on the skin for long enough to penetrate the pores and clear away dead cells.

  • Useful for: Normal to combination and dry skin

Spot Treatment

Chemical exfoliants and spot treatment were the first products to use salicylic acid to treat acne spots. You should research these products before you buy. Side effects such as flaking, dryness and redness are normal. This is not a sign that the product isn’t working. To keep your skin hydrated during the purging process, follow it with a hyaluronic acids serum or a moisturizing moisturizer.

  • For: Anyone with acne-prone skin or someone who has occasional breakouts

Chemical Peel Treatments

People with sensitive skin or severe problems should not use over-the-counter salicylic acid products. Professional cosmetic treatments can be tailored to your skin type, and we recommend you look into them. Chemical peels are one example.

Chemical Peel Solutions are used by dermatologists and beauty therapists to address skin concerns or treat skin conditions. It can be made up of AHAs or BHAs at higher concentrations. This solution will deeply exfoliate the skin and cause peeling. Although it may sound daunting to newbies, chemical peel advocates swear by the treatment. It is good for acne and dead skin cells and helps reduce wrinkles and aging. You can find out more about it in our complete guide to Chemical Peels.

  • For: People with acne-prone skin, particularly those with severe to mild cases.


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